Three of Ireland’s oldest circus families come together to keep the show going

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Three of Ireland’s oldest circus families will reunite for the first time to help their friends return to the ring after a forced Covid-19 gap of almost two years.

the embers of Duffys and Fossetts immediately offered to help the popular Circus Gerbola to ensure a smooth return to the marquee when Celtic Voyage opens at Slane Castle in County Meath for two weeks next month.

Covid-19 restrictions have left circus families with staffing issues as many performers cannot get visas to come from non-European countries.

The Gerbola Circus was one of the recipients of the Live Show Support Program and is hosting a two-week circus and traditional funfair as well as an exhibition of old circus memorabilia in the grounds of Slane Castle.

However, when they found out that some of their equipment had skated in the open during the Covid-19 lockdowns and was not usable, David Duffy of Duffy’s Circus helped by loaning out his machines.

Circus Gerbola wanted to come back in force with the best performers. David’s talented sons, Tom and James, will be the trapeze artists while Edward Fossett Jnr will return from his own circus circuit to take center stage as Otto the Clown.

Tara Gerbola said that while there is still a friendly rivalry between the circus families, they have the utmost respect for each other.

“We are unique small businesses, so of course we all know and respect each other,” she said.

“Although we’ve all worked together in one form or another in the past, it took a pandemic to reunite the three circus families for the first time in the socially remote marquee.

“We all know more or less each other’s schedules so as not to have two circuses in the same city at the same time. We want to open with the best so we asked Edward Fossett Jnr and David Duffy to help us.

“Fossetts has been able to open at times over the past 18 months, but this will be the first time for us and Duffys to return to the marquee.

“I only have butterflies in my stomach. Usually I’m chasing my tail right now because we’re usually at 80 sites a year.

“But at a time when we usually stop to take three months off, we’re ramping up for the first time in almost two years. We got a grant that had stipulations that the circus had to be in Meath and we were fortunate enough to secure the iconic Slane Castle concert site.

“It’s quite amazing and we are delighted with it. We will also organize an exhibition of old circus pictures and posters, because we are now a culture recognized by Unesco and I have my grandparents on a poster. from the 1920s.

“It’s been a long way but we’re finally back. We have negotiations going on for artists, but visas are a problem.”

Visas are also proving to be an issue for David Duffy of Duffy’s Circus, who says many of his former team members cannot return to Ireland at the moment.

“We are not out of the woods yet. We have tried to get our crew back, but some have taken other jobs.

“We can’t get visas for non-EU nationals, so we’re limited in artists. It’s a smaller access pool. Performers have already found jobs there.

“We didn’t want to hit the road and perform in small numbers, it just wasn’t feasible. Our nerves are pissed off at the idea of ​​performing, but I know the show will kick in overnight.

“We are looking forward to working with Tara and Edward Jnr. It is another first for this generation to work together.

“Duffy’s Circus will reopen in Mullingar, County Westmeath on October 19 – almost two years since we had to close after performing in this town.

“There is tremendous excitement here to get back to work. My two sons have been extremely frustrated. All of our equipment has been serviced but we will have to wash the trucks with electricity, it’s ridiculous the amount of cobwebs on it. them.

“Now we have a date to come back, we have a goal and this year, unlike all the others, it looks like there will be a lot of circus performances around Christmas.”

The Gerbola Circus will perform at Slane Castle from October 8 to 17


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